The startling findings, published in the journal Nature, paint a far grimmer picture than current consensus predictions, which have suggested that seas could rise by just under a meter at most by the year 2100.
The scientists behind Wednesday's study used sophisticated computer models to decipher a longstanding riddle about Antarctica: how did it surrender so much ice during previous warm periods? They found that similar conditions in the future could lead to monumental and irreversible increases in sea levels. If high levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue, they concluded, oceans could rise by close to two meters in total (more than six feet) by the end of the century. The melting of ice on Antarctica alone could cause seas to rise more than 13 meters (42 feet) by 2500.